Flowplay, a Kids-World of Casual Games


Flowplay is a Flash-based social network world that is aimed at kids. Within this world they have wrapped 100s of established casual games. Players interact with each other in the 3D-ish world and their performance in the games provides them with virtual currency & goods. They were one of the 40 companies on the main stage at Techcrunch40 last week.

Flowplay has licensed over a 100 casual games so that they can focus on the larger world and game. As you play the casual games you gain points in the Flowplay world that can be used to buy virtual clothes and other goods. These can be given to friends as gifts. During game play you are able to chat with friends and they can play the same game as you (though not the same instance).


The characters and their movement look really good – as though they were a downloaded product. The Flowplay team have created a vector-graphics system with Flash. They use XML to instructions their creations to move. It allows for them to script any part of the body, in any “clothing” to move fluidily.

Though a lot of the game thrives on virtual goods there is no way for players to make their own. The virtual goods system is too complicated for mortals. Currently Flowplay has in house designers trying to build out the world’s inventory. There will be an API for game developers in the future.

The team’s core is three veterans of the gaming industry; they all have successful start-ups under their belts. They are still figuring out their revenue model, but it is most likely going to free to start and a set monthly price for premium. Premium will (probably) allow you to collect more virtual goods, and have an abode.

Having a virtual world filled with casual games is a smart one. People get to play their favorite quick-bite game on their own, but there is community to pull them back. However, they are not the only ones to have it. Three Rings launched the successful Puzzles Pirates, a sea-faring world where people compete via casual games, in 2003. Flowplay is the first that I am aware of that is creating this type of world for kids. They also have the advantage of licensing already-successful casual games.

  • steve

    Since I cited you in another thread, I would like to explain my problem with this posting on Radar. I am not wishing that you would cease posting, but to include a kind of “Radar” perspective.

    Tim has spent decades thinking about communication and collaboration in groups of people. The examples he writes about are part of a larger system of thought, which he is encouraging to come into reality by selective nurturing (jobs, VC, attention).

    You’ve posted about Flowplay, and it is a competent description of a software program. I would expect to read this kind of article on Freshmeat or Tucows. I don’t get any sense of why you are writing about this, how it sustains an idea you are promoting, or the reason why Flowplay is part of changing the world.

    Your posts are the same as someone doing their job. Find relevant product. Post about product, listing O’Reilly connections, venture capitalist interest points. The same as a competent journalist that has been assigned to cover a beat.

    Why are you writing about this stuff? Would you be equally happy writing about food or travelling or some other topic? Or did you spend weeks and months thinking deeply about social networks in your spare time?

    Is there a logic or system of thought behind the postings you make, such that you would be compelled to post about them even if it wasn’t in O’Reilly’s (or your) best interests? Tim writes about competing products or books sold by other people when they’re part of his larger philosophy.

    So overall, the summary is that I feel that Tim has expounded the patterns of thought, and the rest of you guys are finding examples to flesh out the ideas. You guys are doing a job, which is not the same as someone who devotes their genuine and personal devotion to the subject.

    I am quite likely to be wrong, so I’m asking that your posts include more of what you think and why. Take risks and try and explain things that are not clear. Predict the future because of ideas that haven’t happened yet.

    Radar detects what’s in front of you, not what has arrived.

  • The sessions of the Techcrunch40 Conference shows the hottest topics and trends today. Each of them should be on the “Radar” screen. Although I find that individual startups such as FlowPlay are interesting the topics of the sessions could be very exciting to see in a radar perspective. For example I am very interested in your views on Metaverses such as Metaplace and the open alternatives:

  • LJ

    “Flowplay is the first that I am aware of that is creating this type of world for kids.”

    Are you serious?

    There are so many websites that are doing these kinds of sites centered around kids. Actually there are getting to be so many that it makes my head spin.

    Nickelodeon has Nicktropolis – “Create, play, explore and connect safely with your friends.”

    Barbie has barbiegirls for girls to play, shop and interact.

    General Mill’s created Millsberry – which is all about games and shopping with a hint of good health, exercise and civic behavior.

    Not to mention Webkinz, which is the WOW of the littler gamers.

    I would say if Flowplay doesn’t get on the ball, they will be pretty far behind the pack.

  • Nik

    There is the club penguin too guys.

  • Zeb

    I am a regular reader of oreilly radar and I’ve found most of the articles posted by Brady quite interesting and informative. I don’t see anything wrong with this post. Thanks for the review and keep up the good work :)

  • @Steve – thanks for the feedback, I could definitely take more risks in my posts. Virtual worlds is not an area where i have the deepest knowledge, but one of the ways to learn about an area is to expose your current thinking. I hope that you’ve found my geo posts to worthwhile.

    @LJ – When I said “the first of its kind” i meant the first clearing house of casual games in a virtual world.

  • Jim

    I’d have to agree that “first of its kind” type sensationalism is a bit misplaced in gaming as almost never is something truly first. It is always derivative in some way shape or form. And claiming to be “the first clearing house of casual games in a virtual world” is such marketing positioning speak as to be nearly meaningless in my opinion.

  • I have been reading radar for quite some time and i have to agree with Zeb, i think Brady’s article are great. I don’t know much about Flowplay and the kids games, but it’s a great thing for the young ones to have social network sites.. as long as they have fun with games and the owners manage to keep it safe :)

  • alexa

    what the hell is this game about anyway